Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Believe (Part 6 of a Series): Marriage Benefits Children

The latest data I found on the CDC website says that 40% of births in the United States are to unmarried women.  There are numerous studies that show the disadvantages children have when they are born to unmarried parents.  Princeton and Columbia Universities formed the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and, after extensive research, determined:
In conclusion, children born to unmarried parents are disadvantaged relative to children born to married parents in terms of parental capabilities and family stability. Additionally, parents' marital status at the time of a child's birth is a good predictor of longer-term family stability and complexity, both of which influence children's longer-term wellbeing. (link to source)

Before I continue, please let me say that this post is not intended to condemn unmarried parents.  I am not speaking specifically to anyone's individual situation, nor would I want to judge anyone. I have known unmarried mothers who have placed babies for adoption, others who have remained unmarried but raised their children, and others who have married the father.  It is not for me to say what should happen in a particular situation.  No one is perfect, and we all just do the best we can.  This post is, however, an essay in support of what some would call "old-fashioned" values.  I speak of marriage that precedes pregnancy.  

I have been taking a paragraph or two each week from The Family: A Proclamation to the World and discussing it.  This week, however, and for the next several weeks, I will break a paragraph down and only write about a sentence or two at a time.  The paragraph we have come to has so much "meat" in it that it deserves more attention than just one blog post.  So for today, let's look at these sentences from a paragraph in the proclamation:
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
Children can not control the marital status of their parents, but their parents can.  "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony."  Not only that, they are entitled "to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." 

Men and women are different, and fathers and mothers meet different needs for their children.  Children deserve to have both fathers and mothers in their lives.  (Again, please remember we're speaking ideally here.)

When children see parents who honor their vows, they feel safe and secure.  I am not a perfect parent, but my children knew that they never had to worry about their parents divorcing.  Whenever they would hear about friends parents divorcing, they would say to me, "You and Dad will never get divorced, right?"  They saw us nurturing our marriage with weekly dates, common courtesy, and kind words.  Our actions supported our words of comfort and security:  they could always count on us to stick together, and they would never be faced with the question of, "Should I pick Mom or Dad?"

Beyond feeling safe and secure, seeing parents who honor marital vows with complete fidelity helps children understand that it is possible to be happily married.  It gives them confidence and courage to marry when they are grown, and they can see a pattern to follow, hopefully even improving upon the examples of their parents.  

The next post in the series will talk about happiness in family life. No matter what our family composition, there are principles that we can follow to increase happiness.  

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Thanks for marriage, children, family, and the proclamation.

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5 comments:

  1. And yet, despite a great marriage, God deemed me not good enough to become a mother..... Explane that one to me....

    That's the one big question I always have when it comes to God and believing. I know it's a hard one, but I really get hung up on this. You don't know how many times it's been said to me "God has other plans with you" So, not good enough?? and now I have chronic illness instead, so thanks??

    I once was a Christian too, but 20 years of hardship have made me very synical.

    I understand when you don't let this be published on your blog, but I thought you should know, despite I love visiting your blog, I really struggle with this latest post about family and children. Sorry

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    1. Oh, Bianca, I'd never delete a comment from you. I'm so sorry that this post brought you sorrow and heartache.

      I don't believe for a minute that God deems you unworthy. I also recognize that I have not had the same challenges you face every day. I can only imagine your pain, so my words might not carry much weight.

      I do believe, however, that God has a way of making everything right in the end--and this earth life is not the end. I know this is not a commonly-held belief, but I believe that those who have not had children in this life will have the chance after death. Families can be eternal. An eternal perspective is the only way I know to make sense of everything that seems unfair in this life. Our Heavenly Father is loving, and kind. This life is full of struggles and challenges, but I think those struggles and challenges are not doled out punitively by a harsh God, but rather our loving Father allows us to experience those hardships so that we can develop a deeper depth of character and learn better how to help those around us. I do believe you will be a mother someday. It might not be on this earth, but we are eternal, and this earth life is just a small moment in eternity. From our perspective, it is long, but viewed from God's perspective, it is not.

      As I said, I'm not sure that my words will mean much to you. I wish I could give you the hope that I feel, and I wish I could help carry some of the grief that you bear.

      I'm not the only one who wishes to help. A friend of mine read your comment, felt heartbroken for you, and thought of her friend , who also struggles with infertility: http://whatifgodsaysno.blogspot.com/p/about.html.

      Please know that there are many women who are willing to listen to you and cry with you. Again, I'm sorry that this post brought up heartache. You are a good person, and you have a mother heart.

      (((hugs)))

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    2. Thank you so much for you loving words. It means the world to me.
      I'll visit the blog you recommended.
      (((((hug))))) right back at ya.

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  2. Even though I had none of what you described above, I would have loved it! This is a wonderful post. In a perfect world every child would have a mom and dad who not only loved them but loved each other -- in a perfect world. I'm glad your children had that kind of life and wish others did, too.
    This doesn't mean I don't think having 2 Dads or 2 Moms isn't wonderful -- it is certainly better than a mom and dad who hate one another but stay together for the kids.

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    1. I recognize that we don't live in a perfect world--and no family is going to be perfect, even with a mom and dad who love each other and their children--but I do think that the more we can strive for the ideal, the better off children, families, and society will be.

      I admire those, like you, who did not grow up in a stable, loving home, and yet have grown up able to give stability and love to their own children and grandchildren.

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!